Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie is Scottish, but he was instantly drawn to the Texas tale of two brothers turned bank robbers in the drought-stricken, post-recession American West. He tells us about his efficient, stripped-down approach to making one of the best-reviewed films of the year.
Director David Mackenzie only had a limited window of time to shoot with Hell or High Water star Chris Pine before the actor left to do another movie. Mackenzie tells us how he shot a lot of bank robberies quickly, and ended up feeling like an outlaw himself in the process. Plus, he shares his delight at learning of Jeff Bridges' improvisation skills, and tells us why he has no interest in ever making a comic book movie.
Photo: Director David Mackenzie on the set of Hell or High Water (Lorey Sebastian)
The film Hell or High Water follows a pair of brothers who turn to bank robbery in drought-stricken, post-recession West Texas -- and the two Texas Rangers who try to hunt them down.
Brothers Toby and Tanner Howard are played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster. Toby has been struggling to run the family ranch and take care of their dying mother while Tanner was serving time in prison. Following Tanner's release, the normally law-abiding Toby recruits him in a desperate plan to rob banks.
Two Texas Rangers pursuing the robbers are played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham. Bridges' character, Marcus, is facing early retirement and happy to have one more case to solve.
Our guest today is Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie who, before this movie, was best known for making independent films in Great Britain. Mackenzie is Scottish, but he was instantly drawn to the Texas tale written by actor and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan.
Of course, neither Sheridan nor Mackenzie had an inkling of the outcome of this year's presidential race when they worked on the film, but when we talked to Mackenzie just after the election, the movie's themes of economic desperation, hopelessness and anger felt especially relevant.
Hell or High Water premiered at Cannes, opened in theaters over the summer, and is now an awards contender.